Our 2009 Radio 4 Appeal: Jon Snow- Bhopal & Ground Zero

JON SNOW portrait

Back in November of 2009, our first Radio 4 appeal was read by broadcaster and BMA patron, Jon Snow. He explained that:

“Eight years ago I stood in what remained of the Bhopal plant. That year I’d stood at another site of great destruction, Ground Zero in New York. There, in eight short months, the rubble had been cleared but twenty-five years after the disaster in Bhopal barrels of toxic chemicals are still lying rotting in the open at the Union Carbide factory. You can taste them in the air. Monsoon after monsoon have washed them into the groundwater and into the wells of local communities. Thousands of people are forced to drink water they know is poisoned; poisons that now flow in people’s blood and mothers’ milk.”

You can hear the appeal here: Jon Snow Radio 4 Appeal

If Jon were to visit today, another fifteen years having passed, he would find much the same scene.

His piece drew a valuable comparison between Bhopal and Ground Zero, explaining how the debris from the Twin Towers had been so swiftly cleared while the stinking, chemical remains of Union Carbide’s business lay rotting at the Bhopal site.

Mere months after that appeal was broadcast, oil began to flow into the Mexican Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The explosion killed 11 men working on the platform, and injured 17 others, going on to release close to 5 million barrels of oil making it the world’s largest accidental oil spill.

By November 2012, BP and the United States Department of Justice had settled federal criminal charges and, as of February 2013, criminal and civil settlements and payments to a trust fund had cost the company $42.2 billion. (1,2,3,4)

More about BP’s Gulf of Mexico settlement: CLICK

By August 2016, close to 32 years after the Bhopal Disaster, only a $470m dollar fine has been paid and only seven officials, of the Indian Union Carbide, have ever been convicted. The criminal charges have NEVER been answered by the US corporations (5) and thousands of tonnes of toxic waste remain polluting the air, land and water all around.

On August 21 you can hear Mark Tully’s plea for your support of our appeal. Let’s hope we’re not still doing this in another 32 years’ time.

Sir Mark Tully Radio 4 Appeal (goes live 21 August)

Bhopal TX Card


1: Krauss, Clifford; Schwartz, John (15 November 2012). “BP Will Plead Guilty and Pay Over $4 Billion”. The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2013.

2: Muskal, Michael (29 January 2013). “BP pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2010 gulf oil spill”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 February 2013.

3: BP suspended from US federal contracts over ‘lack of business integrity’ | Environment | The Guardian

4: Fontevecchia, Agustino (5 February 2013). “BP Fighting A Two Front War As Macondo Continues To Bite And Production Drops – Forbes”. Forbes.

5: Dow Chemical, outstanding Bhopal-related legal liabilities https://www.bhopal.org/bp-bhopal-and-the-department-of-justice/


Girl with candle Bhopal

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